Best TOEFL Books for TOEFL iBT Preparation 2020
Are you looking for the best TOEFL books to help prepare you for the test and boost your score? Look no further. Here are our reviews and list of the top 10 best TOEFL preparation books for 2020-2021, along with reviews.
Although any of these recommended TOEFL study guides (often misspelled as “TOFEL”) would be an excellent choice, see for yourself which guide meets your particular needs best.
Here are the list and reviews of the top 10 best TOEFL iBT books for 2020.
1. The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test
There are three good things about the Official Gide:
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1. It has the most truthful description of what you see on the TOEFL iBT
2. The practice sets at the ends of the chapters
3. The three practice tests on CD (and in the back of the book)
But none of it is perfect, oddly. The description of the test comes with almost no strategy or advice. For example, there is nothing about skipping a text in the reading section or looking at the first question before you start reading. Also, there aren’t very many practice sets for some question types, such as speaking. And one of the practice tests in the back is old and imperfect, from just after ETS had started making iBT, before they made small adjustments to the format. Even the CD is imperfect—the software is not exactly the same as software you’ll use on test day, although it is similar.
But there is still no better way to get realistic practice tests for a low price, and especially to get them on the computer, like a real TOEFL iBT.
Having the “real” questions gives students an accurate sense of the level of difficulty and what is actually expected of them on the day of the test. Finally, the book concludes with a helpful section at the end, the “Writer’s Handbook,” that explains basic English language principles.
Overall, this is a great choice for TOEFL preparation, although test-takers are well advised to supplement the guide with other study aids that contain additional model exams.
2. Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test
Cambridge University Press is among the leading publishers with a comprehensive TOEFL book on the market. This latest edition, published in 2014, contains access to online TOEFL practice tests.
The package offers a large variety of skill-building exercises and progress checks designed to help improve grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and test study skills. Additionally, Cambridge now offers four practice tests that are contained in the book. The book, via an access code, also provides access to online practice tests (including the tests from the book plus an additional set of three practice tests). The online tests closely simulate the TOEFL iBT’s actual computerized format that you encounter in a test center and even generate a score, both of which are great tools for test-takers. Cambridge also offers a separate listening program with a set of audio CD-ROMs.
This is an old favorite of mine. Cambridge has two major advantages:
1. There are seven full-length tests on the included CD, and they’re even more similar to the real TOEFL software than is the software on the Official Guide CD.
2. In the book itself, there are hundreds of pages of skill-building materials.
No other book focuses on TOEFL-specific skills like Cambridge does. Take, for example, the process of writing a full essay paragraph. First, you need a main point. Cambridge has an exercise for that. Then, you need an explanation of that point, preferably with specific details. Cambridge has an exercise for that, too. Then, you need a transition into another detail. There’s an exercise for that, of course. If the Complete Guide is “step-by-step,” Cambridge is “step-by-step-by-step.” The skills you need for the TOEFL are broken down incredibly thoroughly.
There are two clear flaws, though:
1. Some practice material is too difficult, and not well written.
2. In order to use half of the skill-building, you need to buy the set of 8 CDs. The book alone does not give you listening exercises, other than what’s on the seven practice tests.
3. The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test (iBT edition)
For a student who is studying for over a month and needs some more substantial practice, the Complete Guide is the fastest way to get more high-quality practice material and good skill-building material. It’s not cheap, and it can be a little hard to find, but this book has almost everything a good self-study book should have: loads of material, easy-to-read explanations of strategy, step-by-step training exercises, and audio included (online, for free.) The biggest problem is that there are no answers in the book—you have to buy a separate answer book for that.
This book is really an amazing tool for you to encounter detailed questions in the listening section. The practice tests require you to listening carefully and pay attention to detail. There are many questions related to the order of facts given in the lecture or true/false questions. Hardly could people choose the right answer without grasping the whole passages. This kind of question is the most difficult one in listening, so people who have mastered other types should work on this book to complete all of the skills.
4. Longman Preparation Course For The TOEFL IBT® Test
Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL® Test: iBT gives intermediate to high-intermediate students all the tools they need to succeed on the TOEFL® iBT. The Student Book with CD-ROM and the complete Audio CDs (sold separately from the book) develop test-taking skills and provide extensive practice. The interactive CD-ROM provides more practice and simulates the actual test environment.
Longman Preparation has a lot of material. Each chapter breaks up the individual question types, such as vocabulary questions in the reading or task four in the speaking, and gives many examples of each. As the book goes through those individual question types, it gives advice for each question and provides many test-like exercises. For example, in the chapter on listening questions that ask about the speaker’s attitude, Longman provides a total of eight recordings, starting short and then extending to longer recordings with more questions, slowly adding in other question types that were explained in earlier chapters. Eight recordings is a lot for just one question type, and that’s a good thing!
5. 400 Must-Have Words for the TOEFL
This classic McGraw Hill’s study guide still remains one of the best TOEFL books for intermediate-level students looking to build up their vocabulary. Although not a substitute for a full-fledged TOEFL test manual, working with this handy guide will help you familiarize yourself with 400 target words that are particularly common on the TOEFL exam.
The words are organized into eight categories (Nature, Science, Mind and Body, etc.) and various subcategories, which facilitates the learning of new terms and expressions. Each subcategory is organized as its own lesson. Lessons start off with 10 target words, followed by definitions, samples, and TOEFL prep exercises that require readers to correctly apply these target words.
In its current updated 2013 edition, 400 Must-Have Words for the TOEFL even comes with an app featuring flashcard-style vocabulary quizzes.
Simple, yet effective!
6. Speaking and Writing Strategies for TOEFL iBT
This exciting book is very different from other study guides as it focuses on increasing your TOEFL score by targeting its speaking and writing sections.
First, the main strategic approach it follows in doing so is “argument mapping.” This multi-faceted innovative technique helps to effectively develop and deliver written and spoken arguments by using, for example, deductive and inductive approaches or by developing a number of sophisticated writing strategies.
Second, the guide contains instructions on crafting high-scoring responses for the test’s various speaking and writing tasks, explores rhetorical skills and opinion development, and discusses how to limit errors and improve scores by revising your responses.
In sum, this is a very clever, effective, and thought-provoking manual.
7. Barron’s Practice Exercises for the Toefl iBT
Practice, practice, practice – this is what this Barron’s TOEFL book stands for.
Designed for the most thorough of students, this guide and its new MP3 CD-ROM offer together over 1,000 realistic practice exercises and explanations for listening, speaking, structure, reading, and writing. It is suitable for preparation for both the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL ITP(Institutional TOEFL Program).
This test study guide includes one TOEFL iBT practice test and one ITP practice test. Both contain answer evaluations and can be scored. As an added bonus, Barron’s equipped this 2015 edition of the book with a new chapter that offers an overview of the most used TOEFL vocabulary words as well as new skill-building practice patterns.
Mainly because of the amount of questions and answers, this is a good tool to supplement and boost your studies.
- “Excellent book , very well organized and explained. I would suggest it to all who are looking for a good general review for TOEFL.”
- “As an English teacher for foreign language students I truly recommend this material.
A comparison between what it offers versus the investment required will clearly show how significative it is for non native speakers.
The division among the abilities (Listening, Reading and Grammar use) is well balanced and well driven to TOEFL Test.
If you are studying for TOEFL or any other similar test, believe me it will be of great help.”
- “Took the test once and wanted to retake it. Wanted a book to give me sample questions to refresh what type of questions I see on the test. After using this book for two weeks, listening section score went up 10 points. Speaking section went up 6 points.This book comes with answers to all multiple choice questions and explanations for all answers. The answer key and CDs were all very easy to use.”
8. Barron Essential Words For The TOEFL
This well-organized Barron’s book is another study aid meant to supplement traditional TOEFL books. As such, it contains a list of roughly 500 essential words with definitions for taking the TOEFL.
It also provides an overview of the TOEFL’s most important features, offers tips on how to expand one’s vocabulary, and gives instructions on how to use dictionaries, thesauruses, and flash cards.
In addition, there are practice tests that give readers a chance to apply their new knowledge and evaluate themselves.
9. Check Your English Vocabulary For TOEFL
Check Your English Vocabulary for TOEFL by Rawdon Wyatt provides a resource for students studying towards the TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, which is a requirement for entry for non-native speakers of English at over 6,000 universities in 100 countries worldwide.
This workbook provides a resource for students studying towards the TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, which is a requirement for entry for non-native speakers of English at over 8,000 universities in 130 countries worldwide.
Fully updated for this fourth edition, it includes a range of fun activities to help students build and improve their English vocabulary at TOEFL® level, and is suitable for both self-study and classroom use.
10. Delta’s Key To The TOEFL IBT: Advanced Skill Practice
Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT is a complete test preparation course. It represents an excellent, feature-packed resource for anybody looking to boost their TOEFL score.
The guide is organized in thirty-five learning units that cover the TOEFL’s Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections. Each unit begins with an exercise to focus the reader’s attention, followed by introductory explanations, strategic advice for each section, and thirty-four timed quizzes. The quizzes in particular give the guide a playful and fun component and make studying for the test less stressful.
Another helpful feature is the book’s sample study outline with suggested topics and quizzes or tests that should be covered each week. Students can elect to use this outline to structure 15 weeks worth of TOEFL test preparation. The book is also accompanied by a CD with nine hours of MP3 tracks that can be played on iPods and similar devices. The CD contains the audio portion for all exercise, tests, and quizzes that are part of this guide.
Overall, an excellent choice and good alternative to TOEFL books by the major publishers such as Barron’s or Kaplan.
“Strengths: The biggest strength of this book is the amount of practice. The book contains numerous practice exercises for each and every type of question. This puts it heads and shoulders above other books in that regard. If you have a weakness for listening inference questions, this is really the only book where you can flip the appropriate section and isolate that question type. There are dozens of exercises for each and every type of question. In addition to the individual question types, there are practices that combine two or three question types, as well as all question types, plus four full practice tests. It gets a big A+ for the sheer number of practice questions. Another strength of the book is that the information about question types and answer formats is, for the most part, quite accurate. It may be strange, but this is not necessarily the case for some of the other major TOEFL prep books. If you follow the instructions and examples in this book, you’ll fare pretty well for the real test. Finally, this book has a detailed answer key that provides pretty good explanations of why a given answer is correct. In this regard, a book really can’t compare to a teacher or tutor, but the Delta book does a good job.”